Pop’s most sensitive boy, Shawn Mendes, has hit another career milestone, covering the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Despite his immense fame (the Canadian singer can’t land at the airport without a hundred fans waiting to greet him at the bag claim), Mendes is humble and self-aware. He wants the career longevity of an Ed Sheeran or a Taylor Swift, and though he’s playing sold-out arenas next summer, Mendes has his sights set on stadiums.
In the candid interview with Rolling Stone, Mendes says that he searches his name on Twitter, scrolling through strangers’ observations about him. Sometimes it’s reassuring, like when Mendes hears how the honesty of “In My Blood” and “Youth” have spoken to fans. But other times, the noise can be toxic.
Comments speculating about Mendes’ sexuality get back to him. The singer admits that he has spent some time analyzing his body language and gestures in interviews, and reads anonymous comments to see what he needs to change. “In the back of my heart, I feel like I need to go be seen with someone — like a girl — in public, to prove to people that I’m not gay,” Mendes told Rolling Stone. “Even though in my heart I know that it’s not a bad thing. There’s still a piece of me that thinks that. And I hate that side of me.”
Earlier this year, when he was a guest on her Reputation tour in Toronto, Taylor Swift shared a video of herself putting glittery makeup on Mendes’ face backstage. Swift texted Mendes to make sure it was okay to post, and Mendes gave permission. From the article: “Swift was texting Mendes a cellphone video of them together, just to make sure he was cool with her posting it — a short clip of the night they were hanging out backstage at her Reputation tour and she put her glittery eye makeup on Mendes’ face, to his delight. He told her it was fine without thinking, but later that night, he woke up in a cold sweat.” Once the video was posted, the singer had second thoughts. “I felt sick,” he said. “I was like, ‘F*ck, why did I let her post that?’ I just fed the fire that I’m terrified of.”
But Mendes is coming to terms with the fact that sensitivity and vulnerability are something that should be embraced, not squashed. There are so many ways to be a man. Mendes played with makeup as a kid, and he grew up with 15 female cousins, “braiding hair and painting nails. Maybe I am a little more feminine — but that’s the way it is.”
Read Mendes’ full cover story for Rolling Stone here.